Sep 17, 2012

A rant. Do you, or don't you? Founder Institute. How to approach resources.

Okay, so this entry is a bit of a rant.  Topic: "Do you, or don't you?"  Or how do you know or decide what's next for you?  Or reflections on using resources.  Basically, you got in.  Now what?

Here's something I often don't hear ... "Congratulations!"  An acceptance letter from Founder Institute inviting me to join its Fall 2012 SV semester class.  And they are asking me to make up my mind by tomorrow - 9/18/12 [1].

Usually, it's the "I'm sorry" letter.  Like the one after our Y Combinator interview Summer '12.  'You're good, but no dice!'  (So it goes - learning to take rejections gracefully is part of the journey - enjoy it!)

This feels a lot like B-school apps a few years ago. Got into the Darden School, rejected by others.  Now what?  And I imagine this is a common dilemma shared by other (inexperienced) entrepreneurs.  You got something (a resource), but how do you know if it's worth your investment?  And we generally suck at answering these kinds of questions about how something will pan out based on today's decision.

From Nassim's Taleb's Black Swan, Part 2 - "You would expect our record of prediction to be horrible: the world is far, far more complicated than we think, which is not a problem, except when most of us don't know it."  So we suffer from the '(wo)man who knew too little' problem.  And I know this to be true of my life.  Now and then, I catch myself wondering if my life could be better optimized.  How come I can't seem to go in one direction - up and up?

Since no one knows the future, I'm going to frame this as using resources in life.  What is a resource?  In my case, it is that which will help (our company) grow, answer questions, get users, connect to mentors, etc.  So, the useful evaluation is to determine whether FI will be useful or not for (our company).  I'm going to think about it and discuss it with my co-founder.  As a starting point, I have a few hunches about major pluses and minuses.  But, the problem with hunches is that they are almost always wrong.  And what's really needed is a more empirical data to predict the outcome.  More to come.

Some concluding thoughts to a random rant:
  1. Find/create resources.  FI is a resource.  If you don't apply or don't know about it, you don't have it.  Having a resource is the first step.  This mentality is key to creating your own luck in life.
  2. Consider the goal.  Does the resource help you achieve your goal - whether it's power, knowledge, growth, peace, whatever.
  3. Learn to reason with data.  Heuristics are easy, but unreliable.  What you want is data.  For example, I will look to FI alums to see how successful they have been ... an imperfect data point, but better than a hunch.
  4. Action trumps reasoning.  Attend info events or talk to alums to get more data points.  And will FI help me be more active or simply be an academic exercise?  For startups, key is talk less, do more.
[1] By the way, if you don't know this yet, you can always change dates or rules like this one.  If you want things to work for you in life, you need to learn to change the rules to benefit you.  One useful insight to keep in mind is that whoever comes up with a rule is just another human being.  Just like you.  You can talk to them, reason with them, ask them.

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